A poor start to a big week for Nigel Clough & Derby

Every newly appointed manager is going to promise to get the football club playing at the highest level and return former glory days and past achievements.  With Derby County‘s new manager Nigel Clough, the added pressure is that the glory days came and went when his father, Brian Clough, was appointed Derby manager forty-two years ago, and took them from a similar position to where they are now, and made them League Champions and the following season took them to the semi-finals of the European Cup.

Last week’s game was postponed due to bad weather.  It would have seen Nigel Clough’s first game in charge of Derby County playing Cardiff, just as Brian Clough’s Derby had done all those years ago.  But after ten years in charge of non-league Burton Albion, Nigel is now about to find out if he really wants the added pressure of being a top English football league manager.

On Saturday Derby were at home against QPR, another team that have dropped out of the top league of English football.  But Clough’s hone-coming was spoilt as QPR went on to win 2-0.

Before the game Nigel Clough had told reporters a couple of fringe players may leave the club, but he was happy with the squad he has inherited.  After the match he told BBC Radio Derby that he needs to take the players back to basics, after a disappointing performance.

Clough has little time to get Derby back on track.  They are currently in a battle to avoid relegation. In fact, relegation betting is starting to suggest that they are one of the favourites for the drop.

But aside from the Championship, victory in their next two games could see Nigel Clough being elevated towards the legend of his father.  Tomorrow night Derby play Manchester United in the second leg of the League Cup at Old Trafford, where they protect a 1-0 lead from the first leg; and on Friday Derby entertain arch rivals Nottm Forest in the FA Cup 4th Round.

I’m sure, like me, most football fans of 40+ are willing him to succeed; and what better way to start than to reach a Wembley cup final by beating Alex Ferguson and Man Utd.

Nathan Tyson signs new contract with Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest striker Nathan Tyson has signed a long-term contract at the City Ground. The former Wycombe man’s new deal should see him remain at the club until the summer of 2011.

Nathan Tyson’s current deal was due to expire at the end of the current season, so this latest news will end speculation about the player’s future once and for all.

For a long while now, there have been rumours about Nathan Tyson’s future, with many suggesting that he could leave for a cut-price deal during this month’s transfer window.

However, this has been put to bed now and Nathan Tyson will want to focus on doing well for Nottingham Forest. He will also hope that the injury problems – which have often scuppered progression in his career – are also behind him.

Overall, the remainder of this season is very important for Nathan Tyson. If he stays fit and manages to help Nottingham Forest stay in the Championship, he will be pleased he signed a new contract.

However, should he pick up some more niggling injures and this coincides with a Nottingham Forest relegation, then it may not look like the best decision.

Nathan Tyson has to be positive though as it seems new manager Billy Davies rates him highly. The former Derby manager made Nathan Tyson’s future one of his main priority’s when joining the club, after all.

As for Nottingham Forest as a team, well it seems as though they could be finding some form at just the right time. In response to their excellent win at relegation rivals Norwich City, they upset all football odds by thrashing Manchester City in the FA Cup.

This, combined with the new manager affect, could mean that Nathan Tyson and Nottingham Forest start 2009 as they mean to go on – by pulling away from the Championship relegation zone.

Former Manchester United striker retires from football

Andrew Cole, the former Manchester United, Newcastle United and England man has retired from playing football. The 37-year-old left Nottingham Forest last month after failing to make an impact at the Championship club and has now decided enough is enough.

The failure at Nottingham Forest doesn’t take anything away from Andrew Cole’s glittering career though. He scored a total of 289 career goals, with his most successful spell as a player coming at Manchester United. Andrew Cole won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League while at Old Trafford.

Manchester United were one of just 13 clubs he played for after starting his career as a trainee at Arsenal back in 1989. Since then he scored goals wherever he went including towards the end of his career at Manchester City, Portsmouth and Fulham.

Speaking about his decision to retire, Andrew Cole said that it ‘wasn’t an ideal ending’ to his career, but that he ‘wouldn’t change a thing’. The former Bristol City man went on to say that he will be pursuing a coaching career because he wants to ‘give something back’ to the sport he has played for nearly 20 years.

As for the final team he ever played for, Nottingham Forest have picked up slightly in terms of their Championship form. The football odds may still expect them to be relegated, but after going three games without defeat, they have climbed of the bottom of the table.

This should boost their confidence for the coming weeks where they have crucial matches against Bristol City, Norwich City and Doncaster Rovers. The championship relegation odds will start to back them to stay up if they can pick up some crucial points in these games.

They will feel they can cope without Andrew Cole though, as he didn’t score for them in 11 appearances this season. A rarity for a player that has had such as successful career, it has to be said.

Nottm Forest set to let another player go

Nottingham Forest seem to be preparing for the Championship by getting rid of as many players as they can before the season starts. The latest player who looks set to leave the City Ground is striker Grant Holt. The former Carlisle man is in talks with Shrewsbury after the two clubs agreed terms for the player.

Considering Grant Holt was on loan at Blackpool at the end of last season, the fact that he is leaving makes sense – his first team opportunities have been limited. However, he is by no means the first player to leave the club this summer and I would have thought some Nottingham Forest fans are concerned by some of the players that have left or are set to leave.

Kris Commons, who stuck with the club throughout their three years in League One, strangely decided to move to local rivals Derby County after Forest had finally won promotion to the Championship. Kris Commons was one of Colin Calderwood’s main men in the promotion push and to lose him to rivals Derby County would have hurt – especially considering it was on a free transfer.

Another player to leave is someone who was considered a ‘driving force’ in Nottingham Forest’s midfield last season. Sammy Clingan has moved to Norwich City on a free transfer. The Northern Ireland international rejected a new deal at the City Ground and will be lining up against Forest for Glenn Roeder’s side next season.

So that’s two players who have been regular starters for the club, leaving without a penny being gained. Very strange in my view. Perhaps the most worrying departure is that of Junior Agogo. The man who scored 13 goals for Forest last season has joined Egyptian side Al Zamalek. Robert Earnshaw seems a natural replacement for him, but it remains to be seen whether the Welshman will settle in Nottigham after his dismal spell last season with Derby County.

So how will these departures affect Forest’s chances next season? Well, looking at certain football odds would lead you to believe that many people fancy Colin Calderwood’s men to do more than survive in the Championship next season. If this is to be the case and they end up pushing for the play-offs, then they will have to have a busy few weeks in the transfer market – focusing on incoming rather than outgoing.

Every team will be eyeing Premiership promotion

The Championship is now recognised as one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Last season reflected this in no uncertain terms. Everybody was beating everybody and instead of being described as the most competitive league, perhaps it should be known as the most unpredictable league in football.

On the final day of the 2007/08 season, everything was still up for grabs. Teams were promoted, teams made it to the play offs and teams were relegated. It was a dramatic final day that summed up the rollercoaster football season of which it concluded.

The 2008/09 season kicks off in August and is not likely to be any different. Everyone will believe they have a chance of at least a play-off place. The teams coming up include Nottingham Forest who have already signalled their intentions by splashing some cash on Robert Earnshaw. The other two arriving from League One, Doncaster and Swansea, will look to emulate Bristol City who came so close to securing back to back promotions.

Those coming down from the Premiership will obviously back themselves to bounce straight back. They all have strong squads and Derby especially have been planning for Championship football for some time now. Those who narrowly missed out in the play-offs and those who finished just outside the top six like Ipswich, Wolves and Sheffield United will be looking to go one step further next time around.

Then there is the mid-table crew who will look to record a Hull style improvement on their most recent season. Large, well supported clubs such as Coventry, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich are unlikely to be satisfied with another mediocre season. Even the likes of Burnley, Blackpool and Barnsley know that they have as good a chance as anybody if they can get a decent squad together.

Overall, I would say that you would be a brave man to bet on Championship football. Every single club will rightly believe they have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs. Last season proved that if you put a solid run of results together, you have a chance. This can still be the case if you start badly to the season – look at Crystal Palace. They came from nowhere to finish in 5th position.

Due to the high expectations of the majority of teams, I expect there to be a lot of managerial changes in the first couple of months. If things aren’t going right, the manager will be under pressure and in a Milan Mandaric style swoop – they could be given the chop.

Whatever happens, it is sure to be another thrilling Championship football season with plenty of twists and turns along the way. When these twists will occur and who they will turn in favour of though, is anyone’s guess – that’s the beauty of it. Bring it on.